BLM oil, gas proposal has regional implications
SILT — A Meeker-based Bureau of Land Management office is taking a new oil and gas proposal on a road show this week based on the regional implications of providing for drilling of thousands of new wells.
The agency is revising the oil and gas portion of its 1997 White River Field Office resource management plan based on industry interest in developing “a world-class (natural) gas resource,” Kent Walter, the office’s manager, said at an open house in Silt on Wednesday.
But the field office’s jurisdiction also contains North America’s largest migratory elk herd, some of its largest migratory mule deer herds, blue skies, cold-running creeks and streams and other things of value as well, Walter said.
He said the goal of the revision to the management plan is to determine what level of oil and gas development can be allowed while ensuring “that future generations will be able to enjoy those other world-class resources that we enjoy today.”
The BLM is considering a range of alternatives, including a preferred one that considers development of as many as 15,042 wells on 1,800 well pads over 20 years.
It held open houses in Meeker and Rangely earlier this week, and will host another one from 4 to 7 p.m. today in Grand Junction at the Clarion Inn, 755 Horizon Drive.
“A lot of support for any development is coming from Garfield County and Mesa County,” BLM spokesman David Boyd said in explaining one reason for holding open houses in the two counties.
A local oil and gas industry long active in Garfield County and with strong Mesa County economic ties has its eyes on large-scale natural gas development farther north, in the White River Field Office’s jurisdiction, which has made the plan revision necessary. Most of the targeted acreage already is leased for drilling.
The prospect of anywhere from 4,603 to 21,200 wells being drilled under the alternatives under consideration has caused concern among some conservation groups.
Petrika Peters, West Slope energy organizer for the Colorado Environmental Coalition, said in Silt Wednesday that things such as hunting and fishing are important to local economies as well.
“We don’t want to lose that,” she said.
Claire Moseley, executive director of the oil and gas industry group Public Lands Advocacy, said improvements in technology such as directionally drilling sometimes 32 wells from a pad can go far to reduce impacts.
“You can concentrate the development much better than you could 10 years ago,” she said.